Since today is a Friday in Lent, my 4th post of the 7 Long Takes fits in perfectly.
I think I’ve been doing it wrong for the majority of my consciously-aware Catholic life. For the longest time, I thought it was all about what I couldn’t do or what I needed to do less of.
But that’s like looking at the glass half empty.
Here’s another way to look at Lent.
Lent is about a Return to the Lord.
It’s a special time in the year in which we should ask ourselves,
How can I love God MORE?
I used to spend my Lents flogging myself mentally for everything I did wrong, all the ways I’d fall short. I would get so focused on my sins…that I’d miss the whole point entirely.
Lent isn’t an excursion into the land of guilt and shame. It’s a time of renewal and refreshment. A seasonal deep-cleaning for the soul.
What do you do when you deep-clean your house or car? You snap the gloves on, get on a apron, grab your super-duper cleaners, and get to work. You dust every forgotten corner, scrape of all the juice and pop that’s become a permanent fixture in your fridge, you move things out off the way and clean all those deep down dark spots you’d pretended weren’t there before.
And that’s where the other part of Lent comes in.
Lent is about Detachment
It’s hard – almost impossible – to move forward or anywhere if you’re chained to a pole.
If we are to return to the Lord, this requires movement and motion. We can’t just stay in one spot, flailing our arms around in a whiney voice and expect God to come down to where we are and rescue us.
Oh wait, I guess He did do that. But you know how the saying goes. You can bring God to the people but you can’t make the people come to Him.
Anyway, so if we want to reach God, we have to de-tach from whatever is holding us back.
We all have attachments – things which, in and of themselves, may not be “evil” but which, nonetheless, can chain us down, distract us from our mission, make us forget where we were going and what we’re trying to get to.
These attachments are like a thief, robbing us of the gifts of time and silence. Time – to stop and think and Silence – to open up a clear path of conversation between God and us.
But we miss the whole point of detachment when we become attached to the detaching from our attachments.
We think soo much about what we’re given up or what we’re doing wrong that we forget the goal completely.
Today, my five-year-old son really wanted a lollipop. I recoiled and scrunched my nose. Not only do I loathe lollipops because of their stickiness that gets everywhere, but also because, as a family, we try to limit our sweets during Lent, especially Friday. I reminded him of this but then realized this meant nothing to him except that he couldn’t have a lollipop. So, with this post in mind, I said
Do you know why we give things up during Lent?
So we can stop and think of God and other people and pray for them instead. If we don’t pray for anyone, there’s not much point in giving it up.
So we decided we’d pray for our family and his grandparents and his aunt. Then I let him have the lollipop after all.
And that’s the third lesson about Lent: It’s not about the lollipop.
Lent is about PRAYING.
With God and for others.
By detaching from things we don’t really need or from distractions, we allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to seize the moment and penetrate into our minds and our souls. In doing so, we can think about ourselves less and about God and others more.
I’m figuring out that I should detach from thinking so much about what I’m trying to detach from and, instead, focus more on attaching to a desire to return to the Lord and allow Him to fully enter me and consume me with His merciful and loving embrace.
What does Lent really mean to you?